Weight lifting and strength training is a vital part of an exercise regimen as we age. However, strength training done improperly can be tough on the knees. If you have any type of knee pain, arthritis, or have had a knee injury in the past, you need to be especially cautious when training your leg muscles.

First of all, do not avoid leg strength training: Training those big leg muscles is very important for your health and burning more calories at rest.

To train your legs safely, remember these guidelines:
  • Always remember to warm up first. You really do not want to do heavier squats if you have not done any warm up. Some experts recommend doing two warm up sets of leg extensions before doing any more intense leg exercises. 
  • Do not lock your knees. If you are doing leg presses, leg extensions or squats, you should never fully lock out your knees. This puts all of the stress of the weight on the joints, not the muscles. This can cause injuries.
  • Not fully locking your knees will keep more muscle tension, which will give you more of a muscle workout.
  • When doing squats, use the right form. Many people young and old squat on the balls of the feet. You should be on your heels throughout the motion. Stick your rear out as you go down and keep the back arched. Going back up, push off from your heels, not toes.
  • Do not use too much weight. You want to be able to do the full, proper motion of the exercise you are doing. If you can't, the weight is too heavy. For example, if you use 200 pounds to squat and only are able to go down six inches, you are not really stimulating the leg muscles, and this can lead to injury.
  • Using a treadmill may just aggravate sore knees. Anyone with delicate knees may find it better to use low impact cardio, such as eliptical trainers or stationary bikes.